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12-17-2012, 06:42 PM
Big McLargehuge
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Originally Posted by Chancellor Vitale View Post
That's what I get for quick-scanning a modertor's post between work tasks. Damn me all to hell!

And now to follow-up appropriately:

Can you be more specific / quantify why it was great? What's changed about the NHL since then as a direct result of southern teams? I honestly don't see it other than Nashville becoming a pleasant surprise of a niche market, and I guess you could argue Carolina (sort of a tweener state). But I don't see how any of those teams have created more TV influence for the NHL or anything approximate in terms of growing the popularity of the sport nationally.

Anaheim - LA baseball: fair enough but then the question is, if it takes 40 years in baseball what will it take in hockey and will that long of a struggle with plenty of financial ups and downs in the meantime be worth it? LA is clearly established as a franchise and has been for a while. San Jose while full of playoff disappointments has been very competitive and a good product on the ice... Anaheim... I dunno. They seem like a mixed bag at best. I don't think the fans there are as into it as the other two venues based on anecdotal observations from Center Ice, etc.
It's growing the sport in those regions. It takes a lot of time for the effect to be seen. Remember, we didn't see a Pittsburgher make the NHL until Ryan Malone, nearly 40 years after the team started playing there (and he was the son of a player-turned-scout...the guys after him are a little more 'legitimate' products in that their Pittsburgher-ness had less to do with their dad being a Canadian that happened to play there). For as much good as Lemieux did for hockey in Pittsburgh we're really only starting to bear fruit from that as far as producing players now. It's a rare case that someone picks up hockey later on in life and becomes good at happens, but those are typically freak athletes. You need to be raised into the game, and it takes a generation before you start seeing people raised following the sport to produce children who play the sport. I'm a first generation hockey fan in my family...there was no way in hell my dad was going to pay the money needed for me to play the sport I loved when he barely understood it...nope, I was going to play baseball just like he did and his father did and his father did. My kid(s) will be pushed towards hockey.

In LA it took Gretzky to legitimize the team and sport and we're starting to see prospects come out of that now. We're only now seeing kids appear in juniors who are from these southern markets. The sport is growing by huge numbers in this country as far as youth hockey numbers are concerned. This article from 2011 shows some of those leaps just from 1998-99 to 2009-10. North Carolina grew by 116.1%, Georgia by 89.1%, Texas by 51.5%, etc.

The problem here is the perception that the league has lost popularity in this country, which...well, okay, after this fiasco the league will have undone a lot of good, but the fact of the matter is that the NHL was always a niche sport in this country that never had much of a following outside of pockets. The difference is that there's now numerous television networks and the internet to show us the harsh reality of that fact that didn't exist when the bulk of us were growing up. Yes, ESPN showed NHL games...but they also showed indoor soccer and Aussie-rules football when I was growing up.

As the game grows amongst the youth then so will television ratings and ticket sales as those kids grow up. It's really hard to just pick up a sport when you're an adult and grow to love it. Hell, the only reason I pay as much time worrying about baseball despite the Pirates doing everything in their power to alienate me over my entire life is because I grew up playing and loving the game. If I didn't sink so much time as a youngster into it I probably wouldn't care as much as I do now...and it also put in me a deep understanding of the game.

As for the Anaheim thoughts on shared markets is clear, I'm thoroughly against them. No matter how much Anaheim wants to be their own place, the entire reason that they're on the map is because it's a distant suburb of Los Angeles that Walt Disney was able to buy a bunch of land in. It's different enough that there's a very real divide between the two (I'm borderline offended by the Angels including the Los Angeles part of their name...LA proper is 90% Dodgers), but the fact remains that I can hop on the I-5 in the middle of the afternoon and be there in 30 minutes. The Ducks owe their existence to Disney and Wayne Gretzky, and that's that. Had Gretzky been traded to, say, St. Louis instead of Los Angeles then I'd say it'd be safe to say that the LA area doesn't get a second team. Hell, if The Mighty Ducks movie came out in 2012 instead of 1992 the Ducks probably wouldn't have been a NHL team.

I'll give the Ducks the fact that they're not a problem in the NHL, and that's mostly because they've been fairly successful (swap the Ducks with the Panthers and the roles would be reversed) and, as such, have established a very loyal and knowledgeable fan base that is large enough to support a team...but I still think they should have never existed and the fact that the Walt Disney Company was able to buy a NHL franchise as basically a cross-over promotion is a black mark in the NHL's history (of which there are dozens).

Basically what it boils down to is that I feel the 1993-94 Expansion was a mistake. The NHL was hardly the only league to expand questionable in the early/mid 90s...the Florida Marlins, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Vancouver Grizzlies also exist/existed.

“The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile, but that it is indifferent. If we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death, our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.” - Stanley Kubrick
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